Tuesday 26 October 2010

Meaningless Conscience Salving

The 'strong hints' being dropped by leading Lib Dems that there will, after all, be a cap on the level of fees charged by universities is clearly aimed at reassuring their supporters that they haven't completely abandoned their opposition.  But it's a meaningless concession if the level is set so high, as seems likely, as to prevent no university from charging the amount which they were planning on anyway.

Telling universities that they can go so far, but no further, is just a pointless bit of rhetoric if they weren't planning to go that far anyway.  But in fact, it could actually have a negative impact on the situation - the upper limit could rapidly become the norm.  Universities which were thinking in terms of a lower number could end up standardising at the same level as everyone else.  It may not be what the Lib Dems intend; but that's the whole point about the law of unintended consequences.


glynbeddau said...

It wouldn’t be to difficult foe the Lib-Dems to find out what the maxim any university would seek to set as their Tuition fees at, and then set the cap at that or more likely about 10% below it.and then claiming some moral victory.
They also may seek be stage manage revolts (such as housing benefits) making sure that these will fail but giving the impression that their MPs still have some vestige of radicalism.or are we both being over cynical John?

John Dixon said...

When it comes to career politicians, I'm not sure that it is possible to be over-cynical.